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Why There Could Be a Shortage of These Fruits Next Year

Experts say these changes could have a big impact on certain fruits next year.

One way to save money at the grocery store and get the best tasting produce is to buy things that are in season. Fruits and vegetables all have different growing timetables. This is why pumpkins are so popular in the fall and Florida oranges are everywhere during the summer. Of course, the items in the produce section also have to do with harvest numbers.

Unfortunately, things aren't looking good for citrus fruit grown in the sunshine state. According to a harvest forecast consultant, the orange crop in Florida will be down 8.4% next year. Elizabeth Steger has released a prediction every year for over 20 years. She says the upcoming orange season will produce about 5 million fewer boxes than last year's, according to The Ledger. That's about 62 million in total.

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A bacterial disease called "Greening" has been plaguing Florida oranges since 2005 and has caused the total crop to decline by 72%. It infects the trees, causing smaller fruit, and therefore, fewer boxes. It's also why many farmers haven't planted as many new trees to replace diseased ones. If there are some trees planted, it takes up to five years for it to produce fruit.

But the weather has an impact, too. Hurricanes that hit the state in 2004 and 2005 caused a drop in production, according to Columbia University's Water Center. Extreme weather like storms and freezing temperatures can force trees to develop more than one bloom in the spring. Usually, there is just one and it eventually grows into Florida oranges. Steger says that if there's a pre-harvest drop, the number of boxes produced next season could dip below 60 million.

Issues like a decline in orange juice sales, stockpiling oranges, and more imports of the fruit are getting better in time for next year, The Ledger says. In addition to Steger's prediction, the USDA also puts out its own forecast every year at the beginning of October, and many farmers are waiting to see what they say.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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